Category Archives: Employers & Background Checks

The laws on what employers can and cannot do when deciding not to hire or promote someone based on a background check. Includes how to get around most federal law by doing the background check using free records on the Internet. Also links to each state’s law on such.

Verify What They Do For A Living

So you met this neat guy at Starbucks and he’s full of fascinating tales about himself. He says he’s a wheeler dealer world traveler. He likes art. And in his spare time, he bakes, he sews, and he deworms stray kittens. But is he for real? Is this guy too good to be true? And how can you find out?

Curiously absent from any of his exciting stories, was what he does for a living. Is a he a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker? Or perhaps he’s a doctor or lawyer or grim undertaker? Does he have his own a company? Does he rent from his mom? Is he an industrious inventor? Is he building a bomb?

So how can you find out about these things? Or at least confirm if anything he says about his work is true.

Well, have no fear. Underdog is here! Yes, this is a blog all about employment. And how you can verify what’s true and what’s not.

Knowing The Source of Where The Information Came From
Often you’ll find lots of information, but have no idea where it came from. The source of a record is key. Because if it came from the person himself, you’ll want other means to determine if it’s true or not.

Obviously you’ll know the source if you find it on LinkedIn or Facebook. But what if you find it on seemingly respectable websites like Intellius or US Search? Where did they get it from? And is it reliable?

It may surprise you to know that often they too get their employment info from LinkedIn and Facebook! And I have proof of such which I’ll go into shortly!

The 4 Sources of Information You Need To Know About
When it comes to employment info, there are only 4 types of records to be concerned with. These are:

1. Self Published Info (but allowed to lie);
2. Self Published Info (but required to tell the truth);
3. Reliable Info Published By Others;
4. Info that mixes all three of these.

The good news is that all 4 types of records have their purpose. All 4 of these can be used to find or verify someone’s employment. OR at least to catch someone in inconsistencies.

1. Self Published Info (but allowed to lie)
The first source of info includes what they say about themselves on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media. You may think that because it’s self published it can’t be reliable. And you’re partly right. But it’s very useful as a starting point. And even here you can verify things.

First of all, people usually tell the truth about themselves. So Facebook and LinkedIn are great places to begin. Use these resources to gather as much as you can about the person’s employment. Later you can and will be verifying from other sources. So be patient.

Sometimes, the self published records on social media are quite reliable. Especially when you’re looking to confirm someone is being deceptive.

For example: if their Facebook posts brag about their two years as a homeless hermit in India, what does their LinkedIn account say? Does it claim that during this time they worked in NYC for Arthur Andersen?

On the flip side, social media can also prove he is telling the truth about himself.

Suppose I claim to work at the law firm of Heninger Garrison & Davis. And behold, 20 of my Facebook friends and various LinkedIn contacts also work at Henninger Garrison & Davis.

Chances are, this is a very good indication I worked there now. Or at least once worked there! And what if I have posts where others laugh at what I did at last week’s office party? What more proof do you need?

Using LinkedIn & Facebook To Find Other People Who Work At The Same Company
Of course, not all Facebook friends are visible. And even when they are, not all of them will list where they work.

You could of course ask to be part of your subject’s LinkedIn network. Then you would see if they really know people in the same company. But that could be awkward. And it might make you look  like a neurotic busybody.

If you’re like me, you don’t want others to know you’re backgrounding them! So your best bet is to find the guy on Facebook and see if any of his friends work at the same company! With Facebook’s Advance Search function, this is very easy.

Once you’ve logged into your own account and are on your main page, click on Find Friends and scroll down a bit to your right where it says Search For Friends. Ignore every other field except for Employment, and type in the company they say they work for. Whallah! Suddenly you have a list of names and faces. Are any of them on his friends list?

Of course, for small companies, you can find employees by going directly to the company website. But in the case of law firms, secretaries and paralegals won’t be listed. So you’ll want to search on Linkedin, even if you don’t have an account.

As I mentioned earlier, to find employees on LinkedIn is easy when you’re already in their social network. For everyone else, you can
Google for company employees within the Linkedin website.

Using Google To Search Within Facebook and Linkedin
In the Google search box , search within a website like this:

Rooms To Go site:Linkedin.com (Searches for other employees)
Graham Firestone site:Linkedin.com (Search for your subject)
Graham Firestone site:Facebook.com (Search for your subject)

Using Other Self Published Info Mixed With  Reliable Info (Source 4 docs)
At this point, we’re still trying to find employment information on the quick. So your next step is to look for them on the websites that offer free background check information on employment.

These sites are great for matching a name with an age and a job. And they often include a mixture of information which they get from  social media, the government and professional licensing boards.

But watch out! This 4th source of information is where you can run into trouble. Sites that provide mixed records, take information from wherever they can get it. And often they conceal where they got it from. So you can gather here. But you need to verify elsewhere!

For example, most people know about Pipl, Peekyou and Spokeo. So they expect that some of the information is official (like their age) while other information is clearly self published (i.e. taken from social media).

But what about the “respectable” pay websites such as Intellius, US Search and Radaris? Won’t their employment information be more reliable?

Believe it or not, they too get much of their information from LinkedIn! So you may actually be paying for self published information you could have gotten for free. And worse, it’s never been verified. So you may be paying for lies.

Proof That Pay For Background Check Sites Use Social Media
Take my employment information. Did you know I worked for the prestigious white-shoe law firm of Salamander and Spivak? It’s a law firm that’s so exclusive, only the best even know of it.

The truth is it doesn’t exist! Except in my mind of course! Years ago I put it on LinkedIn as a joke. But it’s now listed on Radaris, US Search and other sites that charge you for online background checks!

So don’t trust them simply because they look official. Before you pay these sites a dime, find out where it is they get their information from! Sites that gather from social media may include the Whitepages, Pipl, Spokeo, US Search, Intellius and other background check websites.

2. Self Published Info (but required to tell the truth)
The second source of info is deliciously wonderful. It’s where people must voluntarily list their employment when dealing with the government, the courts or a licensing agency.

Examples include court filings, bankruptcy petitions, license applications, tax filings, census filings and the job information they volunteer when donating to political campaigns.

No one goes to jail for lying on Facebook. But lying to Uncle Sam is a sin. And if they’re caught, it could cost them their case, their license and even their freedom. With this in mind, people are usually more truthful here than on social media.

Find Their Latest Job Through Their Professional Licensing Board
Many professionals such as doctors, lawyers, nurses and insurance regulators all need to update their respective licensing boards. And this means they often are required to list where they currently work. They could lie of course. But if they get caught they could lose their license. To look up your professional by job type and state, see
Occupational Licensing Boards For All 50 States & DC.
See also Their Profession/License Or Certifications (Consumer-SOS)

Find Job Histories Through Their Federal Campaign Contributions
When you donate to a political party or candidate, Uncle Sam wants to know where the money came from. And so every contributor is asked to list their employment. The beauty of this is that you can sometimes trace the donor’s job history.

Here’s how I did so for John Stanford using the free website Political Money Online. This site tracks all federal campaign contributions since 1980. And this includes the employment history of the campaign donor!

Just enter in their name like below and select their state. Ignore everything else except Search All Cycles.

Wallah! Suddenly their occupation is listed along with the date and amount of their contribution.

In the snapshot above, I even numbered the last five jobs he had in chronological order. Are these the same jobs he posted on LinkedIn and Facebook? Is this what he put on his job application? If not he’s got a lot of explaining to do!

For more links of this sort see Campaign Contributions (Consumer-SOS)

Find Job Histories Through Their Bankruptcy Petitions
A person’s bankruptcy petition can capture years of their financial activities. And it can include other information such as where they worked, how long they held a job, and what they spent their money on.

If you want to see the type of employment info you can get for free from bankruptcy petitions, see the Sleuth For The Truth video Search For Bankruptcy Filings (Free Public Records) and advance to 5:36.

For more on using PACER to get free bankruptcy petitions, see the bottom of the Sleuth For The Truth Blog Free Bankruptcy Records.

3. Reliable Info Published By Others
Now is the time to talk about the reliable outside sources that show where they work or have worked in the past. The more official these sources are, the better. These could include government listings, a news article, or a membership roster from an occupational licensing board.

For example, a government listing of property owners, a federal listing of all US Postal workers, or a state bar directory of all Georgia attorneys. These are all official publications.

Ignore Commercial Directories Which List Employment
Commercial directories are almost never reliable. To be reliable means their information is accurate and includes all licensed members of the profession. Most commercial directories only publish the names of those who pay their fees. And they also rely on whatever their members say about themselves.

So if you’re not sure, test them by looking up at least two people you know are licensed in that profession. If one of them is missing, you’re either a bad speller or dealing with a commercial directory.

Commercial Records Can Be Reliable
Don’t be so quick to write off a record just because it’s commercial. Reliable records can be found on the employer’s website, in newspapers, from charity events, or in a list of consumer complaints from the Better Business Bureau.

For example: You can bet Steve Wosniak really works for Apple when their website shows he hit a home run at the company picnic.  Likewise, when a charity lists a 10 million dollar donation from Graham Firestone of Firestone Tires, wanna bet they got his job title right?

Googling For Reliable Records
OK.  Suppose you want to confirm that Bill Gates works at Microsoft. The first stop is to go to the firm’s homepage and see if he’s listed there or in some employee directory.

But what if he isn’t there? And suppose the firm doesn’t have a search engine where you can look for him? In that case, use Google to search for his name within the company’s website like this:
Bill Gates site:microsoft.com

If the website blocks Google from searching within the site, (and some do) you can still Google “Bill Gates” Microsoft. The latter may pull up other reliable sources such links to newspapers and charitable events that show his affiliation with the company.

To find where lawyers and other professionals work, you could also Google a person’s name along with their occupation, like this:
“Graham Firestone” attorney or
“Graham Firestone” attorney Georgia

Verify If They Have A Professional License
Earlier we used the professional licensing boards to show where they currently work. But here we just want to know if they really are a doctor or lawyer or acupuncturists. Unlike commercial directories, the licensing boards will have every single person in that profession.

How Do I Search For Licenses?
Every state’s website is different and has different ways to search for a professional. In GA, for instance, you can do a general name search without checking off which profession you’re looking for. This is great when you’re just curious as to what they do for a living.

In most cases, I recommend you search by first and last name and a profession. If you can’t find them, search by last name only. Sometimes people will register with a first name, but their friends and colleagues know them by only their middle name.

To look up your professional by job type and state, see
Occupational Licensing Boards For All 50 States & DC.

Verify Job Histories of State, Federal and Other Government Employees (Salary Lookups)
Nearly one sixth of all U.S. employees work for the government.  That’s right. Twenty two million people. The links below can show up to six years of their employment history and may include their job title and salary.

See Public Salaries & Employment History (Blog) and

Salaries: Government, Non Profits, Foundations & Publicly Traded Companies (Links)

Verify Job Histories of Executives At Publicly Traded Companies
Each year, high ranking officers of big companies like Walmart, Exxon and Apple must publish their job title and salaries. So you can see exactly how long they worked there and what their job title was. See Private Salaries That Are Really Public (Blog) and

Salaries:Publicly Traded Corporations (Links)

Verify If They Own A Corporation (Consumer-SOS)
The government keeps records on every Inc., Corp, and LLC.
The link above will also show if they are officers or agents of the company. Sites ending in .gov are the most accurate. Other non government sources may miss records, but are good when you don’t know what state the company may be incorporated in. (Allows you to search by the person’s name or company name in all 50 states at once).

Verify if They Own A Business That’s Not Incorporated or Have Patents or Other Intellectual Property
Some people are inventors. Others have a thriving business which you can only find through their websites. For links to find out if they own a website or other intangible property, see Find Their Intellectual Property(Consumer-SOS).

Verify if They Are High Up In A NonProfit or Foundation
See Foundations & Non-Profits (By Individual or Company)

Now you have more than you ever wanted to know. There’s loads of free stuff out there.  So stop lollygagging and start backgrounding!


Locating Assets

So he owes you money?  Or it’s a divorce or child support case where they’ve got to be hiding something!  Either way, you’ll want to know all about their assets.

Searching for assets can be tricky.  And there’s no guarantee you’ll find anything.  But this blog will show you some powerful places where to look.  And how to do it fast, easy and all for free!  In fact, while I urge you to read on, you can find all these links Here.

Why Look For Assets?
Here are the obvious and not so obvious reasons to look for assets.

Divorce and Child Support
Sadly, this is the main reason why people try to hide what they own.  See Tricks People Use To Hide Assets From Their Spouse

Someone Won’t Pay You
So they refuse to pay you? The good news is you found their boat, their car, their house and their tractor.  Do they want to lose these things?   Ask them.   Sometimes, a mere threat works wonders!

They’re Lying About Being Rich
Is little orphan Annie pretending she’s Daddy Warbucks?  People lie about their assets for many reasons.  Some do it for personal approval.  But others claim to be rich so you’ll invest in their Ponzi schemes. Think Gregory Crabtree and his association with University of Georgia  football coach Jim Donnan.

Spotting Conflicts Of Interest
People are influenced by what they own.  And knowing their assets can help uncover a hidden conflict of interest.  For example, a judge rules against your solar power company, but you later discover he owns stock in a competing oil company.  Or what about the
non-profit director who rallies against pollution while holding a majority interest in the notorious Smog R US, INC.?  Could assets in these competing ventures influence their day to day decisions?  Could it affect how they vote?  You bet.

Criminal Investigations
How do you know that scumbag A is connected to scumbag B?  Trace their assets!  Often shell companies lead to other shell companies which are held by friends, relatives and known criminal associates.

Wills & Probate
Are you sure their will is up to date?  What if they acquired new property, new stock options or a new company that the family never knew about?  This could happen by oversight. (The decedent was forgetful or never got around to revising their will.)  Or it could happen by design. (The secret car or house was for a mistress or baby mama.)

Assets Lead To Other Assets
The fact is that assets point to other assets.  Suppose for example,  that Company A and Company B have different owners, yet both share the same address and phone number.  Is Company B connected to Company A?   Maybe not on paper.  But what if you found both company owners were related to each other?  Could a friend or family member be hiding assets?

For more on why you should do an asset search, See 10 Reasons To Locate Assets

What Is An Asset?
Most people know why to look for assets.  But what exactly is an asset?  In the broadest sense, an asset is money or something that can be sold for money.  This includes anything from homes and cars to their used paper clip collection.

But don’t waste your time with paper clips.  Start with big ticket items such as their houses and companies. Then work your way down to smaller assets such as their stocks, cars and personal property.

3 Types of Assets:

  1. Real Property, Business Property  & Personal Property
    Examples include:
    Homes, buildings, parking lots, stores, boats, planes, tractors, cattle, cars, antiques, artwork, furniture, medical equipment, jewelry, collectibles & hobby equipment, corporations, partnerships, non profits, and the physical property associated with such.
  2. Cash, Income, Stocks, Bonds…
    Examples include:
    Salaries, retirement funds, pensions, bank accounts, stocks,  annuities, dividends, residuals & royalties from contractual and licensing  agreements, legal settlements, insurance proceeds, book sales, etc.
  3. Intangible/Intellectual Property
    Examples include:
    Copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, patents,  inventions, proprietary software, goodwill, client lists, buy out agreements, etc.   Like homes or businesses, these have value.  And like any other property, these can be sold to pay off debts.

How & Where To Look For These Assets (An Overview)
How and where you look all depends on what you know about the person.   You can search for assets based on:

  • Asset Types (What you think they own)
    This includes records on corporations, foundations, intellectual property, real property and cars, boats and planes. These can reveal the owner behind them.
  • Where The Person Works
    Often you can obtain salary, stock or pension information if they work for the government, manage a non profit or are an officer or director in a publicly traded company.
  • Their Hobbies, Licenses or Profession
    Many dentists have their own practice, and therefore, own expensive medical equipment such as dental drills and X-ray machines .  Same goes with cosmetic dermatologists who may own expensive lasers and dermabrasion equipment.  A person with a boating or pilot’s license could very well have a boat or small plane,  a gun collector, expensive guns, a sports hobbyist, expensive baseball memorabilia, a farmer, a tractor, a cyclist, a six thousand dollar bike, etc.
  • Usually you can get their profession or hobbies from LinkedIn, the Age & Relative lookup sites, or through Facebook, Twitter or Pipl.com.  But if you can’t, don’t despair.   Many states have occupational search engines where you can search by name just to see what license they have.  For example, in Georgia, you can find all the people in the state named “Adam Rosen” who have a professional license.  Just enter in their name without selecting a profession.  But don’t expect to find any Adam Rosens who are lawyers and doctors.  Typically those are found at the state bar and state medical board websites.
  • Key Events In Their Life
    Did they ever file for bankruptcy? (The bankruptcy petition may list assets.)  What about winning or losing a lawsuit?  (Assets could be listed in divorce, breach of contract, or personal injury claims.)  Did they ever receive insurance benefits from a death in the family or from a car accident?
  • Their Online Announcements
    Did they move and list items for sale on e-Bay or Craig’s list?  What about that new job they announced on LinkedIn or their vacation posts on Facebook?  Did they brag about their timeshare, boat or condo?

Age, Middle Name & Close Friends & Relatives
You might think you need their Social Security number to find their assets.  But it ain’t so!  There are three things far more important.  And yes, these too can be found for free online.

Before you do an asset search, you should know their age, middle name or initial and their close relatives and associates.   You want the first two to make sure you have the right person.  But close friends and relatives are almost as critical.  If someone wants to hide their assets, guess who they’ll do it with!

Age/Relative lookups are not the only place to find relatives.  Checkout Facebook as well.  Make sure to  look for all “friends” with the same last name as your subject.  And then add these to your list of their close friends and associates.

You’ll want to look for the son, daughter, spouse or live-in girlfriend who suddenly acquires a new house, plane or boat!  Same goes with their business partners and close associates.  It’s easy to find out when they got the new house. The online property tax records will show you exactly when they started paying the taxes on it!

Plane and boat registrations are also helpful.  These often list the exact date when the new owner acquired the property.  And the timing matters!

Was it just before or during the divorce? Or right before the bankruptcy?  This is something your lawyer or a judge might find mighty interesting!

What If I Don’t Know Their Middle Name?
If you don’t know their middle name, at the very least, you’ll want their middle initial.  This is critical when searching for a common name.  For example: There may be 1000 John Smiths, but only 25 John R Smiths.

A middle initial is your best friend in Google searches.  It’s also useful when searching the corporation and real property databases.  Sometimes these databases will cut off results after the first 100 returns.  If this happens, add their middle initial for more targeted results.

Test Bookmark
How & Where To Look For These Assets (Specific Links)

 

Find Assets Or Asset Holders Through Their:

Real Property (Who Owns What & Where) Relatives & Associates
Private Corporations (By Individual or Company Name) Intellectual Property (Websites, Patents, ©,® and ™)
Public Corporations (Look up Companies, Officers, Their Stock & Salaries) Foundations & Non-Profits (By Individual or Company)
Personal Property & Fixtures (Boats, Planes, Cars, Equipment…) Life Events (Bankruptcies, Lawsuits)
Government Employment (Salaries & Retirement Funds)

Related Links On How To Find Assets

Employers and Background Checks

2.0 Good Mugshot

No employer wants trouble.  But that doesn’t mean you can screen out any applicant with an arrest or conviction.  This blog will show you the federal laws to watch out for and which ones won’t apply if you do the background check yourself.  I will also point to links where you can read up on your state law requirements.

Keep in mind that you need to follow both federal and state law.  And there’s no uniformity between the states.  What’s fine in Arkansas could be illegal in Arizona.  So read your state’s law.

Federal Laws On Employment Background Checks
When it comes to the workplace, there are two federal laws to be mindful of when doing background checks.  The first is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  The Fair Credit Reporting Act is generally understood to refer to credit reports.  But it also applies to Background Reports and Consumer Reports.  The latter is most often used by prospective landlords and contains information about a person’s credit characteristics, character,  general reputation, and eviction records.  It’s a catch all phrase that includes credit reports.

Under the FCRA, you must get a person’s consent before ordering either of these.  If you refuse to rent, hire or retain them, they must be given a copy of this report and the reasons for your decision.

The second set of laws are those from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  These are the laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to prevent discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, disability  and national origin.

When it comes to criminal records, the EEOC’s main concern is that there’s no discrimination based on color, race or national origin.  Previously they’ve noted “an employer who adopts a blanket policy of excluding all applicants with a criminal record could screen out disproportionate numbers of African Americans and Latinos, which could in turn constitute illegal discrimination.”

The good news is that Title VII does not apply to employers with less than 15 employees.  So small employers can ignore The EEOC Guidelines on Arrests and Convictions.

Counting how many employees you have is another matter.  Sometimes part-time employees don’t count.  Sometimes they do.   It all depends on how long they’ve worked for you.  For more, you’ll want to read up on How To Count The Number of Employees An Employer Has.

What If I Do My Own Background Checks?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act covers only certain types of background checks i.e. those you pay for or get through data brokers or through credit/criminal/consumer reports.

It does not cover you doing your own research using free public records.  However, the EEOC rules against employment discrimination (especially against race or color) restrict how you can use the info regardless of how you got it.  Key is if you have over 14 employees.  (Independent contractors don’t count as they’re not employees.)

State Laws On Background Checks
So you have only 5 employees and you’ll do your own background checks, all for free.  Great.  The Federal laws above can’t touch you.  You’re exempt from the FCRA because you’re not ordering a background or consumer report.  Likewise, the EEOC can’t touch you because Title VII applies only to larger employers.

So are you scott-free?  Not quite.  Your state may impose additional legal restrictions on employee background checks.  State laws vary dramatically and can offer additional safeguards to prevent discrimination.

Nor does it always depend on the size of your company or how you got the information.  Some states limit what you can ask, when you can ask it or what you can do with the information regardless of how it was obtained.

For example, under New York law,  it’s illegal for a company with 10 or more employees to exclude all applicants with a criminal conviction.  Rather the employer must show that hiring the applicant would pose an unreasonable risk to property or to public or individual safety, or the conviction bears a direct relationship to the job.

In Georgia,  the law is totally different.  There is no restriction on the size of the company.  And in some cases, first offense or parole records cannot be used negatively in the hiring process.

For more, see Background Check Laws & Regulations For Private Employers

Related Links
State Laws on Use of Arrests and Convictions in Employment
Free Criminal Records Including Arrest Records & Convictions
An Employment Law Tightrope: Criminal Background Checks